Haute Top 5: Best Seafood Restaurants in San Francisco 2017

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The chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean in the San Francisco Bay are home to a plethora of local seafood species. Anchovies, halibut, mackerel, sand dabs, sardines, sole, and albacore tuna, can all be found in the waters that surround the city we call home. Not to mention the shellfish: Dungeness crab, oysters, mussels, abalone, and clams—you name it and it’s probably farmed in the bay! This means that seafood lovers will never go hungry. For the freshest fish and most innovative seafood preparations, head to one of our favorite restaurants, listed below.

1 Swan Oyster Depot

Swan Oyster Depot is an old school raw bar and fish market that’s been serving San Franciscans at it’s Polk Street location since 1912. It’s such an institution that there is always a line for the 18 counter seats, so if you’re planning a trip, be prepared to wait and note that it’s only open during the day from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The no-frills lunch counter serves seafood salads and cocktails, plus oysters on the half shell, hot cracked crab, smoked trout and salmon, and bowls of Boston clam chowder. Off menu, secret-not-so-secret dishes include Sicilian sashimi, a platter of crudo topped with olive oil and capers, and the crabsanthemum, a mound of cracked crab legs arranged to resemble the flower.
1517 Polk Street San Francisco, CA 94109

2 Leo’s Oyster Bar

Leo’s Oyster Bar is a splashy seafood haven from the owners of Marlowe and Park Tavern in the Financial District. The interiors are lush and tropical with custom banana-leaf print wallpaper and an invitingly long bar. Chef Jennifer Puccio has excelled at creating a non-location specific seafood menu. It’s not inspired by a place or time, it’s simply amazingly delicious seafood. There is Japanese hamachi with charred avocado, baked oyster carbonara with crispy pancetta, mussels with andouille and ham hock, and miso-glazed local halibut with kimchi fried farro. If you’re in the mood for the classics, don’t worry, Leo’s also offers crab cakes, a rock shrimp Louie salad, clam chowder, and a warm buttery lobster roll. Note that it’s a happening scene where SF’s most stylish PYTs can be seen sipping icy cold martinis, so we don’t recommend showing up Lululemon.

3 Farallon

This year, Union Square’s Farallon restaurant is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The iconic seafood eatery, overseen by Pat Kuleto and co-owner and chef Mark Franz, is a special occasion sort of place with seafood served in the grand old style of eras past. There are extravagant platters of iced shellfish, eight different types of oysters, five varieties of caviar, and that’s just the raw bar selection! Appetizers include scallops, halibut crudo, fritto misto, abalone chowder, and seared octopus, while entrees are elegant and elaborate. Think seared local sablefish with smoked mussel escabeche, fava beans, and greens or grilled tombo tuna with farro verde, castelvetrano olives, pistachio, and nasturtium.

4 Anchor and Hope

Anchor and Hope is a fish house that’s open for lunch, happy hour, and dinner in down town San Francisco. It’s equal parts East and West coast with a lively bustling atmosphere and plenty of large tables making it perfect for a crowd. Order the head on prawns with charred lemon or the marinated octopus with salsa verde. Both are cooked over a charcoal grill which adds tons of smoky flavor. The angels on horseback, smoked bacon-wrapped oysters, are addictive—as is the crispy calamari with green curry lime sauce. If you’re in the mood for classic fish and chips, Anchor and Hope is the place to indulge. Their scrumptious variation involves Smithwick’s beer-battered flounder, tartar sauce, and house-cut fries.

5 La Mar

When you crave the tart refreshing Peruvian seafood specialty, ceviche, La Mar on the Embarcadero is your next stop. La Mar translates to the sea in Spanish and this festive restaurant from Gaston Acurio, one of Peru’s top chefs, is a seafood lover's paradise. There are six types of ceviche all made with 100% sustainably caught fish as well as nigiri, and four different kinds of tiradito, a Peruvian style of sashimi that’s wildly fresh and tasty. The menu also features several innovative seafood dishes like shrimp croquettes, octopus and potato skewers, squid ink pasta, arroz con shellfish, and grilled salmon in coconut milk.